Hidden in the Raiders loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday was a very effective performance from the ground game. The Raiders averaged 4.3 yards per carry on 25 attempts for a total of 108 yards and running back Marshawn Lynch scored his second touchdown of the season.
After giving up a touchdown on the Ravens opening drive the Raiders tight end Jared Cook fumbled and it was returned for another touchdown. Being down 14-0 to start the game can put pressure on the offense to try and pick up chunk yardage. The Raiders did their best to maintain a balanced offense though the early deficit certainly effected the game plan.
“That’s a hole in the NFL you don’t want to put yourself in.” Raiders right tackle Marshall Newhouse told Levi Damien after the game. “That other team is still an impressive team regardless of record. Everyone in the NFL is good. If you put yourself in that hole you’re digging yourself out of it the rest of the game. It’s tough, I don’t care who’s playing, who is doing what. You don’t want to start that way.”
If it had not been for this early lead the story of this game could certainly have been how the Raiders rushing attack had rebounded in a big way. This run against a 6 man box is a god example.
The Raiders have five offensive linemen to block six defensive linemen yet this run goes for 6 yards. Running back Marshawn Lynch put in some extra time this last week to get in sync with his linemen and the results do show up on tape.
Lynch would finish the game with 43 yards on 12 carries for and average of 3.6 yards and the aforementioned touchdown but he wasn’t the only running back to have a good game. Fellow back Jalen Richard contributed some of the highlight runs that he seems to produce every week.
Richard is able to tuck in behind the pulls of left tackle Donald Penn and center Rodney Hudson for this 12 yard gain. Richard is one of those backs that is a threat to score any time get gets the ball and a little bit of space. Those big scoring plays were missing in this game and for the last three weeks. The Raiders offense will be looking to fix that this week.
“We felt the entire time we could score, we just weren’t doing it.” Newhouse continued. “We weren’t putting the drives together. We knew we could, we knew it was just a matter of doing it. We did it once, we felt things changed. I’m not a big proponent of momentum but confidence, definitely.”
“We stubbed our toe again and again, but there’s no lack of confidence in what we’re doing. We have to be assertive and intentional in how we prepare going forward. I don’t think that’s not what we’ve been doing by any means but it has to be dialed up to a whole other level.”
Besides simply controlling time of possession and the line of scrimmage, having an effective running game opens up play action. According to PFF the Raiders have only run 11 play action passes for the season with 4 of them occurring in the Baltimore game. While this pass should have come out quicker and been thrown to wide receiver Amari Cooper the team will no doubt take the result.
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree hauls in this 41-yard touchdown pass but the thing to notice is how the play action effected the linebackers and opened up Coopers angle route. Had quarterback EJ Manuel gotten the ball out on time to an open Amari, this play may have still ended in a touchdown.
The Raiders have dropped three straight games and it can be difficult for fans to recognize the positives during a losing streak. The offense hasn’t performed as most people expected the last few games but there are positive signs on film.